Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Internet Incognito

North Dakota is the 39th state (11/2/1889) on our 50 State Tour of poets laureate.


Larry Woiwode (pronounced "why-woody") has been the Peace Garden State's poet laureate since 1995. He's also an award-winning novelist, writes fiction and nonfiction, and teaches at North Dakota's Jamestown College.

But after a long search, I gave up looking for a poem by Woiwode posted on the Internet.

Which made me wonder... why do some poets embrace the World Wide Web, while others go Internet-Incognito.

There is danger in posting a poem. People will be able to read your work without paying for anything, they might post a poem, share it, plagiarize.

But the flip side is, people might enjoy your work and seek out more of it.


Still, I'm surprised that a Guggenheim Fellow and National Book Award finalist like Woiwode isn't represented on sites like the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Foundation, The Writer's Almanac and Poetry Out Loud. (Woiwode has some poems available online through The New Yorker magazine, but you have to be a subscriber to access them.)

If you'd like to know more about this mystery man, there's a review of his memoir, "A Step from Death" here.

The Writer's Center (here in Maryland) did a "Whatever Happened to?" post on Woiwode.

To represent North Dakota, I'm sharing a James Wright poem, "Outside Fargo, North Dakota." I like the way this one refers to the writing process -- read to the poem's end to see what I mean.

Outside Fargo, North Dakota

by James Wright

Along the sprawled body of the derailed Great Northern freight car,
I strike a match slowly and lift it slowly.
No wind.

Beyond town, three heavy white horses
Wade all the way to their shoulders
In a silo shadow.

Suddenly the freight car lurches.
The door slams back, a man with a flashlight
Calls me good evening.

Read the rest of the poem here.

Poets --  how do you feel about posting your work on the Internet? What are the hazards? The positives? Tips you have about sharing poems in a way that's comfortable?

4 comments:

Toby Speed said...

I've been wary of posting my own (although I did twice), and wish poets had a way to watermark their work the way artists and photographers do. There is really not much protection for a poem. Maybe some protection, if you put a copyright notice below it.

Maybe there's additional protection from blog followers, who would know that a poem first appeared on one of the blogs they follow. I'd like to hear how others feel.

Author Amok said...

I post them occasionally. The watermark is a great idea, but I also like to share and open myself up to feedback.

Poetry Friday "etiquette" is to post a portion of the poem, then link to a website where the whole piece appears. Problem is, which websites are okay? Poemhunter and Plagiarist, I'm less comfortable with. If I can find it at the Poetry Foundation or Academy of Am. Poets, I prefer to use those sites.

I'd like to hear how others feel, too.

Valerie said...

A while back I wanted to quote part of a poem by Julia Alvarez, the author of some poetry books along with several novels. I was curious whether she had any poems on the internet and she had none. Because of that I thought I should ask for permission (she does have a website) -- and her rep basically said no. I thought that was a shame, because her novels are easier to find in bookstores than her poetry. I don't think very many people would order poetry books without being able to see a sample online, and how can they if they won't allow even one poem online?

I don't know what to say about poets who aren't yet published -- but if it's out there online you never know who may come across them. A potential publisher, maybe :-).

Author Amok said...

Hi, Valerie. I love Julia Alvarez' series on housework. I'm surprised she has no poetry on the Internet -- especially at some of the prominent sites I mentioned.

You did the right thing to ask permission, though. We have to go by the poet's preference. I agree with you. Sharing a limited number of poems is a good way to generate interest!